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Rhode Island Superfund Announcement, North Providence, Rhode Island

Talking Points for Governor Christine Todd Whitman
Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
at the
Rhode Island Superfund Announcement
North Providence, Rhode Island

January 31, 2003

Thank you Senator (Lincoln) Chafee for that introduction.

It = s great to be here today in North Providence to highlight the important role EPA= s Superfund program holds in revitalizing urban areas damaged by years of industrial abuse.

Over the past two decades, Superfund has made tremendous strides by cleaning up more than 800 sites and converting some of the most dangerous hazardous waste sites into areas of productive use for the community.

These efforts, in turn, have helped protect the health of thousands of Americans in communities all across our country.

There is no denying the success and importance of the Superfund program.

Not far from here, you can see first hand the progress that is being made at one of this country= s many Superfund sites.

One of the biggest environmental challenges in this area has been improving the health of the Woonasquatucket (Woon-ass-qua-tuck-it) river and revitalizing industrial areas along it= s shoreline.

Though the upper section of the Woonasquatucket is clean and scenic, below Smithfield, years of industrial waste have taken their toll on the health of the river.

Designated as an American Heritage River in 1998, EPA has worked closely with environmental organizations, communities and local governments to restore the river and develop a revitalization plan that best fits the needs of those who live and work along its shores.

An important part of that effort has been the clean up of the Centredale Manor Restoration Project.

Over the past several years, EPA has spent more than $10 million to address the removal of dioxin contamination from the site and we have worked cooperatively with the responsible parties in overseeing their rebuilding efforts of the breached Allendale Dam.

February will mark the one year anniversary of the Allendale Dam = s finished restoration, and while clean up activities are still continuing, this area is well on it= s way to once again becoming an area of economic and recreational use.

Superfund continues to be an effective tool for urban renewal B fostering economic revitalization, preserving our environment, and protecting human health.

When it comes to funding the clean up of Superfund sites, the Bush Administration embraces the principle that the A polluter pays. @

The Superfund law puts the burden of paying for the cleanup of polluted sites where it rightly belongs B on those responsible for creating the mess.

Through aggressive action by the EPA, more than 70 percent of all Superfund cleanups are paid for by the responsible parties.

Only in those cases where such parties cannot be determined or have long-since gone out of business are appropriated monies used.

I = m pleased to announce today that the Bush Administration is underscoring it = s commitment to funding Superfund clean up in those instances by requesting $1.39 billion for the Superfund program in the FY 2004 budget.

That includes $150 million more for Superfund clean-up over last year = s budget request.

Due to the increase in cost and complexity of sites currently being addressed under Superfund, these funds will be specifically targeted to insure the continuation of ongoing cleanups and will help maintain the momentum of cleanups this program has sustained in the past.

With this funding, we will work to re-create our success here in North Providence in other areas around the country.

I want to thank Senator Chafee, Governor Carcieri, and Mayor Mollis for their commitment to the environment and leadership on these issues.

Working together we can ensure the Superfund program is strengthened and that it= s future course is charted in the direction of healthy and thriving communities for this generation and those to come.

Thank you and I = m happy to answer any questions at this time.